“Being able to demonstrate the value of naturopathic medicine to a broader audience has been an important part of my success.”
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
“I strongly believe that there is a huge difference between living a long life and dying a long life. We have become very adept at keeping people alive with amazing, life-saving medications and techniques, but have fallen behind in our focus on optimal health and disease prevention.”
Kim Bretz, ND sees the value that naturopathic medicine offers in its approach to preventative health care and healthy living.
CCNM as a springboard
Dr. Bretz chose to pursue her education at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) because it had the largest naturopathic clinic in North America. “I wanted to get the most thorough clinical experience possible.”
“On top of my basic education at CCNM, I learned I had a severe needle phobia. This made acupuncture and injections/blood draws a huge problem. My hope was that they would exempt me from this requirement. Instead, they set me up for success with a path to move past my phobia. Not only did this prepare me for being an ND, but it also showed me early on the importance of perseverance (a great skill for being a business person) and that sometimes the hardest, scariest things are the things that will take you the furthest.”
Dr. Bretz has woven inter-professionalism into her career. “Being able to demonstrate the value of naturopathic medicine to a broader audience has been an important part of my success.”
After graduation, she worked in a pharmacy/medical clinic while also teaching at the College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. Five years later, she began consulting for a pharmaceutical company and has continued consulting with lab and supplement companies since that point. Dr. Bretz owns Fundamentals of Health– an interdisciplinary clinic in Waterloo, Ontario, works with the University of Guelph in natural health product research, and teaches complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) care and inter-professionalism at the University of Waterloo Pharmacy School.
Dr. Bretz found her passion in gut health and the microbiome. “To me, it validates the importance of diet and nutrition, stress, the water we drink, the way we’re born, our interactions with nature, avoiding the inappropriate overuse of medications when possible, and so many other areas. In the coming year, I’ll be starting a mentoring program for naturopathic doctors in gut health and the microbiome.” Dr. Bretz’s goal is to provide a framework that NDs can share with their patients in usable ways.
Finding fulfillment as an ND
“I absolutely love what I do and would do it again in a heartbeat. I love helping patients meet their health goals.” Dr. Bretz enjoys the opportunity to teach her patients so they can make educated decisions related to their health care.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what choice a patient makes as long as they’re coming at it with the best information possible – then they can then make their choices based on their values.”
Advice for aspiring NDs
Dr. Bretz advises prospective students to put their head and heart into their career in naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine should be more than a hobby. Network, shadow, and seek mentorship from local NDs. Learn what they are doing, what helped them along their path, their successes, and setbacks.
Secondly, set yourself up for success by thinking about your business strategy early on. “I did not plan for success – I honestly didn’t plan for anything at the beginning.” Dr. Bretz quickly realized the need for planning and feedback and subsequently sought out mentors who she could learn from and help her along her path. Her success is due in large part to recognizing and fortifying areas that needed growth and pursuing her passion fully.
Learn more about Dr. Bretz